The Fort Worth Press - Inter sneak past Juve to stay on heels of leaders Milan

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Inter sneak past Juve to stay on heels of leaders Milan
Inter sneak past Juve to stay on heels of leaders Milan

Inter sneak past Juve to stay on heels of leaders Milan

Inter Milan kept their title defence alive with Sunday's 1-0 win at Juventus thanks to a controversial retaken penalty which moved them three points behind leaders AC Milan and Napoli, 3-1 winners at Atalanta.

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The champions came away from the Allianz Stadium in Turin with a narrow win in a bad-tempered match decided by Hakan Calhanoglu's spot-kick which was scored at the second attempt five minutes into first-half stoppage time.

Inter stay third with a game in hand and extend to four points the gap between themselves and third-placed Juve, who will be 10 points off the pace with seven games remaining if Milan beat Bologna on Monday after their unbeaten league run ended at 16 matches.

"It's a huge step for us. We know that we've dropped points lately, but we're going to try to recover them over the remaining eight games," said coach Simone Inzaghi.

A game which started after an Italian and Ukrainian singer belted out a rendition of John Lennon's 'Imagine' to promote peace in Ukraine turned ugly almost immediately after kick-off, with rough tackles and niggly play which was dominated by the wasteful home side.

Events turned on the final few minutes of the opening period, with bedlam breaking out after Inter were awarded their spot-kick for Alvaro Morata treading on Denzel Dumfries' foot.

Calhanoglu's weak first effort was saved by Wojciech Szczęsny and from there chaos ensued, with Inter's players celebrating after the ball was clumsily bundled in by Juve's defenders only for that goal to be ruled out for a foul.

A VAR check then showed that Matthijs de Ligt, who stopped Calhanoglu from scoring on the rebound, had encroached in the area before the Turk missed his penalty, allowing him a second chance to slam home the opener which was taken with gusto.

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was livid on the sidelines but kept his cool post-match, saying that his team were "out of the title race" despite being the better team.

"I'm not going to say things that won't help right now," he said to DAZN.

"We played well and had lots of shots on goal, it's just a shame about the defeat."

The closest they came to scoring was through substitute Denis Zakaria's 72nd-minute shot which was tipped onto the post by Samir Handanovic but failed to create much more.

- Napoli join Milan at summit -

Napoli prevailed in Bergamo thanks to Lorenzo Insigne's early penalty, a sweet Matteo Politano volley eight minutes before half-time and a stunning late breakaway finished by Eljif Elmas just as Atalanta were pushing for a leveller after Marten De Roon pulled one back in the 59th minute.

Napoli were given a huge helping hand by captain Insigne, who was heavily criticised after Italy failed to reach a second World Cup in a row but opened the scoring and also laid on Politano's strike with a delicate free-kick.

"We believe, we've always believed," said Insigne of Napoli's title hopes.

"There are still seven matches to go and they're seven big matches so we need to face them in the right way."

Defeat for Atalanta continued their dismal home record this season and leaves the one-time title hopefuls in seventh, eight points behind fourth-placed Juve and with little realistic chance of a place in the Champions League.

De Roon's powerful header looked briefly to have given Atalanta hope of snatching a draw but instead they fell to their fifth loss of the campaign at the Gewiss Stadium, where they have won only four league fixtures.

They have Fiorentina just a point behind them following their 1-0 win over Tuscan rivals Empoli in Sunday's early match.

Three points ahead of Atalanta are Roma, in fifth after winning 1-0 at Sampdoria thanks to a beautifully-worked goal scored by Henrikh Mkhitaryan to extend their unbeaten league run to 10 matches.

Samp stay in 16th on 29 points, seven from the drop and four ahead of Cagliari, who were thumped 5-1 at Udinese thanks in part to a Beto hat-trick.

P.McDonald--TFWP